Content marketing in the B2B sector is boring.
89% of B2B marketers use content marketing, and according to latest statistics and reports, it generates three times as many leads as paid search.
Not bad. But for a lot of businesses, it’s becoming a platform to push sales messages.
Yes, your content marketing should deliver a return on investment and generate leads, but that doesn’t have to be by bombarding people with industry drivel and an unoriginal sales patter.
In a B2B world, the business to business mindset seems to come across in every aspect. However, this doesn’t make sales. A business talking to another business is dull. People buy from people. Marketers so often forget that the end user isn’t just a ‘decision-maker’ they are a person, with a personality and character, they are not just a business entity.
So, how can you stop with the same boring sh*t and start delivering the content that captivates, engages and finally really does convert? You need to get your audience on side and start livening up your marketing. Here are just some of the ways that you can take your marketing from dull-fest to exciting sales city.
What Can You Do To Liven Up Your B2B Content Marketing?
When did a professional tone turn into boring?
Of course, some businesses and professions do not lend themselves to a jaunty tone or humorous content. However, that doesn’t mean your content can’t be interesting. So, while the businesses you are targeting may be professional services such as insurance providers or legal services, think about the people behind the job role.
Doing some research into who the humans are that your targeting and what content interests them will go a long way in creating the perfect tone for your marketing without falling into the snooze category. Don’t throw away your content guidelines just yet, but perhaps put them on hold for a little while and start figuring out what content your targets actually consume and adapt your guidelines to what works for your customers.
Missing The Mark
If you are experienced in content marketing, then you’ll know that consistency is key. However, what happens if you set your guidelines on a stereotype, not on the person who receives your content? One of the best things you can do to really hone in on your target audience is to create buyer personas.
Buyer personas should be based on the genuine knowledge that you have of your audience base. So often in B2B content marketing, we consider the buyer as a stuffy middle-aged man in a suit. However, this is so often far from the truth. Those who are in control of buying decisions could be bright young things or later generation forward-thinkers. Don’t presume to know who your audience is because this will quite often mean you are missing the mark.
Another aspect where marketers can miss the mark is with the disconnect between the persona of the visitor of your site and the persona of the buyer. Quite often, these are two very different things. It is worthwhile spending time adjusting the content for the visitors and buyers that are actually interested in your business. Stop creating content for whom you think you should create for and start honing in and you could end up hitting the nail on the head.
Data is critical for this step.
You do not know who your audience is unless you get the data to prove it. Gather the data, create the buyer personas and bring them to life in every way you can see fit to. Be creative, be whacky. Are they cat people or dog people? What colours do they like? The more background you have and detail you imagine the easier it is to develop content that works for them.
The Perfect Form
What format is content marketing taking at the moment? According to a survey of marketers, the most popular format for content marketing to invest in for 2018 is video marketing. In fact, 71% of marketers are increasing investment into video in 2018. However, despite the rise of video tactics, eBooks, blogging and email newsletters still remain the top three marketing formats thanks to the impact they bring to organisations.
Want to see if others work better for you? Here are just some of the other forms of content that you can create or curate to drive engagement and take away the boredom.
- Research papers
- Images / Memes
- Case Studies
- Free tools
- Data reports
- Interactive content
- Free courses.
If you’re just starting out with content marketing, then blog posts are a safe bet. Valasys Business Solutions have found that ‘92% of B2B companies who increase their blog content see an increase in lead generation and conversion’. However, throwing in some new formats into your content marketing strategy can help keep things fresh and your audience engaged.
The B2C Approach
In the past, B2B marketing and B2C marketing was vastly different.
Different formats, different style, different outlets. However, with the rise of the internet, those barriers have been removed. While many people think that B2B marketing is playing catch up to B2C approaches, the fact B2B is one step behind could prove to be a tactical decision. B2B can now follow the lead of B2C and only choose the strategies that are tried and tested and proven to work in the market.
For many B2B organisations, the leads used to come from face to face meetings where they could meet the people behind the business. However, these days clients will take most of their research online. Through online research, they don’t get to meet you in person and see the values and personality of the business. This means it is essential that your business personality comes across in your B2B content marketing.
So how do you give the face to face feeling online?
It starts with adopting the right voice.
Your voice needs to showcase what distinguishes your brand, but it also needs to resonate with your target audience. For a voice that resonates, would a generic automated personality-void voice really engage? No, of course not. So, start by talking like a real human being, engaging in conversations with real humans.
Need to find your voice?
Start by researching B2C content marketing and see how they use their voice to build rapport with an audience.
Another aspect you can steal from B2C is the storyline approach. Humans are hardwired to love a good story, but this is often lacking in B2B content marketing. Telling a compelling story about how your products and services solve problems is a great way to build trust and create a conversation. Furthermore, stories are more likely to stay in the customer’s mind.
This aspect may seem to contradict what we said earlier about stopping delivering the same boring sales patter. However, stories about your products don’t have to be pushy. They don’t have to be me, me, me! Product-centred content can be interesting and captivating without screaming ‘BUY ME!’.
One way to deliver a great storyline about your product is to look back at the history of it and showing its progression. Building history into storylines has a way to resonate with people, perhaps being nostalgic. Even if it was only a few years ago, time moves so fast that you can build nostalgia quite quickly, even if your business or product is relatively new and recent.
Strip It Back
Another aspect that many B2B content marketers fail with their approach is making things overly complex. Yes, your product or service may be complex, and you may want to showcase yourself as an industry expert. However, people want to understand what you do in simple terms. Simplifying and clarifying what you do doesn’t lose your position as an expert, but it does help your product to be understood by more people.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can make simplifying your product more captivating in your content. Webinars and demos are excellent for explaining technology products and services as they talk users through your business, one step at a time. Other fun ways of simplifying what you do include offering a behind-the-scenes look.
A great example of simplifying what they do to its core, is the shipping company, Maersk Line.
While people may not know exactly what they do and whom they serve, they drove engagement by asking their audience to share a photo on social media every time they saw a Maersk container. The initiative drew significant audience involvement. It became clear to thousands of followers; that Maersk was a name you see regularly and evidently they are a brand that ships products globally.
Making Kick-Ass Content
Remember, your buyers are people and that your brand is full of people too.
Shine the spotlight on your customers and your team members. Show that there is more to life than work and you have a fun and interesting team. Whether you focus on fun clients or employees, they all show that your company is far from boring.
- Be interesting and interested
Take an interest in the end user. Your customers will love the fact that you care about their customers. So often B2B works as passing the buck. However, by taking an interest in the end user, you build up a better relationship with your clients and their customers.
- Jump on bandwagons
Just because you’re a professional business doesn’t mean you ignore real-life fun. Tie in with trending topics and holiday seasons. Don’t just be generic and safe, be topical and be you. If you copy and paste the same seasonal message for holidays and weekends, maybe it’s time to liven your feed up with something your audience won’t expect, but will love.
- Blow their minds
Celebrate your products and services without being pushy by showing just what your product or service can do. You can make it fun too, explaining what your product can do doesn’t have to be its sole purpose, think outside the box for other fun uses.
- Stay relevant
Find out what your customers like and build relevant content. Memes and popular culture quotes that have been adapted to suit your business purpose work really well for a quick update on social media. However, building buyer personas can help you to craft the long-term content strategy that you need to connect and engage with the right people.